The good, bad and ugly of the capital region's parking lots

Small stalls, not enough spaces, poor design, insufficient lighting and the smell of urine are some of the less-pleasant experiences drivers face when they park their cars in lots around town.

In his column last Friday, Times Colonist Driving columnist Steve Wallace wrote about the frequency of crashes in parking lots, usually a result of poor design.

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Then we invited readers to share their experiences. They responded with a vengeance.

The majority of the responses were for larger parking lots, although some smaller lots were singled out as well. Some locations garnered both praise and criticism.

Here are some of the winners and losers, with a sampling of readers’ observations:

The worst

Tuscany Village (Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue)

“I think they went with the idea of Tuscany after they realized how little space they had, so that the limited space seemed more like a theme than a lack of foresight,” one reader commented.

“The underground, however, is plentiful, clean and bright.”

Another said, “It’s tight, hard to navigate, with counter-intuitive flow.”

One more: “I have seen more accidents in Tuscany Village since it was built than I have seen at all the other malls combined in the 25 years I have lived in Victoria.”

Fairfield Shopping Centre

“Too small, with stressed young moms vying for spots with semi-fossilized seniors who can’t turn their heads or see above their dashboards.”

“Stalls are tiny but it’s those drivers from the other side of the ‘Tweed Curtain’ that scare me.”

“It’s a dead certainty to get a nick in the side of your vehicle.”

“I don’t know what it is about that place, but the combination of tight quarters, rushed soccer moms and vague senior citizens is just deadly.”

Royal Oak Shopping Centre

“Too congested, a mish-mash of angles and directions, tight turning radiuses and multitudes of odd directions.”

“I find the parking lot very challenging as too many of the spots are angled so that, when backing out, one has more than two directions to watch for oncoming traffic.”

“All of the parking lots in Victoria are bad, I came here from Halifax a few years ago and was completely shocked at how tiny the actual parking spots are.”

“Almost every time I drive through there, I witness a close call with either a pedestrian or a vehicle.”

Safeway, Fort Street and Foul Bay Road

“The whole design seems as though the parking lot was an afterthought.”

“Deserves an award for “worst-planned parking lot.”

Uptown Shopping Centre

“The ridiculously slippery paint caused pedestrians to hurt themselves, and motorcyclists to find themselves sideways on the ground when the paint got wet when it rained.”

“It’s a nightmare, too busy, too much volume, limited access, dangerous for pedestrians and bicycles.”

London Drugs on Yates, Cook and Vancouver streets

“Instant gridlock, tiny stalls, narrow lanes and high curbs.”

“There are not enough spots, the spaces are tight and the traffic pattern between the two halves of the plaza is unclear. It is parking mayhem.”

“I fell there, wrecked my ankle, knee and am in physical rehab.”

Mayfair Shopping Centre

“Risky for damage by other marginally skilled drivers.”

“All the spots are too small for the size of vehicles in use today what with pickup trucks and SUVs.”

Bay Centre

“Low ceiling clearance, limited, tight, mediocre parking spaces and expensive fees make it the most unappealing place for my vehicle to park.”

Saanich Centre, Quadra and McKenzie

“Just horrid, both upper level and underground.”

“The London Drugs/Thrifty lot at Quadra and McKenzie is horrible and a design disaster.”

Victoria city hall parkade

“Streams of urine in the stairwells and scary parking at night.”

The best


“Best by a country mile. Wide spaces with buffer zones between each, and simple lane ways.”

“Super wide stalls and wide lanes.”

Capital Iron

“Mainly because its downtown and it’s free.”

“Free, safe, downtown and surrounded by fascinating stuff.”

“Capital Iron/Mark’s Work Wearhouse lot is well marked with wide enough spaces and good visibility.”  

Save-on-Foods, 3510 Blanshard St.

“Nicely laid out, lots of room, no confusion.” 

Tillicum Shopping Centre

“This lot is very large with lots of extra spots and, I believe, easy access.”

Broughton Street parkade

“There’s plenty of parking, plus easiest to navigate in comparison to other public parkades in town.”

- - -


Safeway, Fort Street and Foul Bay Road: "As far as I know, it is the only one to take into account the fact that drivers become pedestrians at some point. The existence of sidewalks accompanying each arm of parking in this lot allows drivers to at least have a chance to reach the store and return in relative safety."

Mayfair: "Simple to understand for every driver and gives the driver enough space to reverse out of the stalls."

Uptown, underground: "Lots of space, good signage, multiple access points to stores above."

"My living room isn't as clean and bright as that place."

Hudson Centre: "Best parking lot in Victoria ... easy in and easy out."

Costco: "Nice wide stalls where you can open your door without banging into the vehicle next to you, very well done!"


Pharmasave, Hillside and Shelbourne: "If you have some spare time, grab a bench and watch people try to negotiate a spot to park in this wacky, tight parking lot."

Uptown: "I happen to work at an office there and I can tell you sometimes I just park on a nearby street so I don't have to deal with the nightmare that is driving around blind corners."

Fairfield Shopping Centre: "Way too small ... probably wouldn't be allowed if built today."

Safeway in Sidney: "When someone backed into our car we drove to the ICBC claims centre and as we drove up to an attendant, I said we wanted to report a car accident in Sidney. Before I said another word, she asked, 'Safeway parking lot?' "

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